South Bend Tribune
There is no shortage of problems for Sue Ellspermann to address when she takes over July 1 as president of Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. The state’s community college system has been struggling for years.
When Ivy Tech was designated Indiana’s statewide community college system more than a decade ago, enrollment initially surged. But that hasn’t been the case lately. Enrollment has dropped 25 percent in recent years and Ivy Tech is well below the national average of 58 percent for full-time community college students finishing in six years.
Ivy Tech’s north-central region, which includes campuses in South Bend, Goshen and Warsaw, had the lowest overall six-year completion rate in the state for students for two years between 2006 and 2008. Just 18.6 percent of students earned a degree or certificate from Ivy Tech or another institution within six years.
Ellspermann, the state’s former lieutenant governor, had long been considered a front-runner for the Ivy Tech presidency ever since she left the administration of Gov. Mike Pence to seek the post.
Ellspermann has a doctoral degree and previously managed an economic development center at a state university. And, according to a story in the Indianapolis Star last week, Ellspermann is someone “who has the ability to take Ivy Tech in a different direction.”
The statewide community college system is in need of a new leadership. In a meeting with The Tribune’s editorial board last year, we were struck by how engaged and focused she was on the needs of residents who rely on Ivy Tech to further their education.
Turning around the performance of Ivy Tech campuses statewide will take time. The issues that Ellspermann faces as she prepares to take the reins of 30 campuses statewide didn’t arise overnight and won’t be easily solved. We wish the former lieutenant governor well as she begins the process of improving the statewide community college system.